His post was entitled:- “How Google Blogsearch ranks your Postsâ€¦ In their own words!”
Yes, I have used almost the same title, just so it is clear that this post is very much related to the one Alister made and Darren’s blog.
I made 2 changes to the title:-
- My previous post on blogsearch ranked very well for “blogsearch” and not “blog search”, despite tagging it with both variations. I made sure my title has the other variation in addition to Alister’s words.
- The “or not” signifies that I don’t necessarily agree with everything stated in Alister’s post
My first thoughts were to write a rebuttal of many of the points Alister raised. I was extremely concerned about the aftermath of lots of new bloggers reading Alister’s post, and making some horrible mistakes.
Audience & Perspective
Problogger.net attracts a different audience to my own blog. Darren and his guest writers have to write content suitable for that audience, and do that very well.
I don’t want to pigeon-hole the content on Darren’s blog, but the following phrase comes to mind – “Bite Sized Chunks“.
That might mean covering less points, but in more detail or with more explanation, or covering lots of points briefly, most often with lots of bullets.
Remember my blog is (or some might say was) about niche marketing, thus this blog is an example of how a blog can become successful in a niche that appears to already be saturated, and still offer totally unique content. I target my audience very specifically.
Ok lets talk about blog ranking…
The 2 Most Important Factors
For Blog Ranking In Google Blog Search
This is actually very simple:-
- How fresh your content is
- Exact keywords in the title
These factors are not really discussed in the patent, they might seem obvious, but are easily overlooked.
Even when sorting by relevance, in Google Blog Search the most relevant posts are the first few freshest. If there is lots of fresh content on a particular keyword, factors other than keywords in the title might not even come into it.
If you don’t have the exact keyword in the title, you are unlikely to rank highly. You can rank highly for “blogsearch” or “google blogsearch” and not even appear in the first 100 results for “blog search” or “google blog search”.
That is definitely evident from my previous analysis of Google Blog Search which only used one variation in the title, but used the variation with spaces in subheadings throughout.
Google only list one relevant document per domain with Google Blog Search, unlike the primary Google Search which may rank 2 pages.
This post, because it will be fresher than my previous post, will most likely displace my previously high listing on the term “blogsearch”, at least for a short while. I did grab and annotate a screenshot before the change takes place.
It should also be noted that a lot more people used the term “Google Blog Search” when discussing the ranking blog documents patent than “Google Blogsearch” – it is easier to rank with less competition for the term, but a number of highly respected blogs have used that term, both before and after my post, within the title, so something must be affecting the longevity or retained ranking position.
Alister is well aware of these blog ranking factors as being the most important, as his recent post about how to get on the first page of Google shows.
Here is what Alister stated:-
Very cool. But a few â€œexcitement dampenersâ€ to bear in mind:
1. Your post is only there until three more recent blog posts are indexed, which can happen quickly.
2. The keywords have to be in the title of your post. That a little limiting.
3. Google donâ€™t always show these blog posts. Indeed, I repeated the same search just now andâ€¦ no blog posts listed
That was to get into the blog listings at the bottom of normal search results, which don’t always appear.
Google Blogsearch however doesn’t treat 5 day old news as being “fresh”, and thus content with longevity will rank higher. A good example (at least today) is this search for Auctionads which at least in my data centre lists a 6 week old article by Techcrunch in first place.
It is also interesting to see how search results for auctionads also change rapidly in the primary Google search results. Lots of people have been posting about auctionads category matching recently, and that has affected the short term results in Google. It will be interesting how that plays out long term.
Long Term Quality Ranking Factors in Google Blog Search
Keyword in Title
Without the exact keyword in the title, you are going nowhere fast. It might be possible to rank for longtail search terms and exact phrase search terms without it, and in fact at time of writing (though as soon as this article is published this will change), if you do an exact phrase search for “Google Blog Search” my previous article on Google blog search that had “Google Blogsearch” in the title, still ranks 14th, due to the frequency of the other version in the text, and in subheadings. Remove the quotes, I won’t appear.
Factors From The Patent
I am not going to extensively write about in this post things which I covered in my in depth look at Google BlogSearch and Ranking Blog Documents Patent.
It is a challenge covering the same topic multiple times without repeating myself. I am going to mainly refer to the ideas covered by Alister.
It seems to have an influence, but maybe not as much influence as you might think. I think Google might give a blog like Techcrunch with 300,000 readers slightly more credibility than a blog with 1000 readers, but the most important factor is that you have some readers who subscribe, not just website activity.
There might be a difference between 10, 100 and 1000 readers, but I don’t think it is a huge difference.
As an example, at least based on my data centre, I still rank first on terms like “Google Reader Feedburner“. Part of that may be the optimization of the article, but I also think there might be some benefit due to the amount of times I have written about both Feedburner and Google Reader in the past. The content is “on topic” for my blog.
One thing that I pointed out in my original post is that the patent was issued around the same time as Google Reader was launched. Google must have been using 3rd party data at that time in some way, such as Bloglines, and possibly things like Technorati Favorites – I am still experimenting on my speculation regarding Technorati Favorites mentioned in my blog ranking writeup, though Maki seems to have been extremely successful in gaining a few new technorati favorites. I have been exchanging Technorati favorites since November last year – it does seem to bring in a few extra visits per day, but mainly from the front page of Technorati of those that have added you to favorites.
It is a shame that most of the people who jump on meme bandwagons for things like Technorati favorites don’t place similar emphasis on building up their real targeted subscriber numbers, probably the ultimate key to blogging success. I will leave discussion on why you should aim for targeted subscribers to another post.
I don’t like blogrolls, I much prefer links from content when I write something good that you might want to share with your readers. I also wrote recently how in a similar way I don’t like various top commenter plugins. I have also shown how a Top Commentators plugin can be used only on your front page.
Rob has also hacked the Top Commentators Plugin so that instead of not showing on all additional pages, it adds nofollow to all but the home page.
I might even add it to this blog, or a variant, but I have to work out how I will add some more internal linking to compensate. Actually I had some ideas on that, and Rob has solved those too.
Just because Google says in a patent document that they might take blogrolls into account doesn’t mean it is a good idea, because ultimately a blogroll leaks link equity to lots of unrelated sites. In many cases it is the blogging equivalent of link exchanges, and it has been well documented that Google frowns upon that if done excessively.
Lets also take a look at what was said in the comments on Bill Slawski’s original post on the blog patent, which confirms my own views.
The patent application really doesnâ€™t emphasize having a blog roll on your own site, but if you do, you likely improve the chances that someone might add a link to your site upon theirs, especially if they find value in your posts, and their readers might, too. There are more that I would like to add to my own blog roll, but itâ€™s getting pretty long.
Bill’s emphasis is on the possibility of more incoming links, it is more a community thing than any kind of SEO benefit.
It should also be noted that most SEO blogs concentrate more on linking through to each other than the SEO for their own site, and someone looking for Bill’s great content is going to subscribe.
Kirby Also later on asks…
Bill, I may be mistaken, but I thought Vanessa Fox said that Google ignores the footer and sidebars. Wouldnâ€™t that make the blogroll irrelevant? Any thoughts?
Bill’s reply was…
Iâ€™ve heard or read a lot of things that Vanessa has said, but donâ€™t recall that statement from her exactly, or the context within which it was stated.
Itâ€™s possible that Google has a fair handle at being able to distinguish between the main content sections for many blogs, and footers and sidebars. They do a pretty good job of distinguishing between multiple reviews that appear upon the same page for local search, and the patent application that describes that process of visual segmentation states that the process it uses could be used to identify sidebars, headers, footers, and other parts of pages.
Might Google ignore links within a sidebar or footer for rankings in Web search, and consider them for ranking in Blog search? Maybe.
Another possible option is that Google applies different weights for links depending upon where they are located upon a site. The patent application on historical data and information retrieval described a way of applying modifications to pagerank, both positive and negative, for links based upon things such as age.
One of the things rarely talked about, but I have mentioned quite frequently is that there isn’t one single best way to optimize a website or blog. Google have 200+ factors, and it could well be the case that complying well with one positive factor might have a negative effect on another factor.
A “Jack-of-all-Trades” SEO philosophy, doing a little bit of what everyone recommends might not be as effective as taking one specific direction and maximising the benefit of just a few ranking factors.
One thing that is important to note is that nothing about blogrolls in the patent suggests that a blogroll has to give a followable link across the whole of your website to count.
There are ways to have a blogroll only appear on your front page, or appear on all pages, but with the links on everything but your front page be nofollow.
SEOs often recommend that if you are going to have a links page, don’t call it links. I would suggest calling it blogroll ;)
Andy Aren’t Dofollow Links From Comments
Totally Unrelated Links As Well?
I suppose it depends on who leaves them. I frequently use the link box provided to link through to highly related content. It might not have good anchor text, but in the blogosphere people linking with good anchor text is rare anyway.
People link to me such as “Andy Beard has an interesting post about XYZ” and the link anchor will be Andy Beard.
Trackbacks you can easily choose your dofollow anchor text, because it is normally your post title – Dofollow plugins remove nofollow from trackbacks too.
I can’t say whether a link from a comment is worth more or less than an link in a blogroll on a single page. Lots and lots of Blogroll links isn’t a good idea, and I definitely wouldn’t want to encourage blogroll link exchanges.
They might help with Technorati currently, but I don’t think that is a viable longterm situation.
A link from a comment from most blogs using dofollow (and even a few still with nofollow) are counted for Technorati Authority links, but only if the Technorati bot visits the post. Also note that you only need a link once every 6 months.
Tagging is often confused, and this was made especially bad when people started referring to “Tag & Ping” – effectively auto-submitting to social bookmarking sites.
As far as I am concerned that isn’t tagging. Tagging requires classification of a document and providing related terms.
The primary way of tagging your content isn’t by submitting it to bookmarking sites that are still offering followable links and classification, but actually giving your “blog documents” their own tag data, or tag data equivalents.
Technorati and probably Google regard tagging as
- links that contain the microformat rel=”tag”
- labels (if you use blogger)
Google are looking for data on what your document is about, as defined by humans, and not how popular it is. Popularity of a document they can get from other sources, such as measuring traffic, and links.
I mentioned that my previous post on blogsearch has been maintaining good rankings on that terms for a while.
How many times a document gets Digged is very unlikely to be a direct measurement of quality, as you can see by how many Diggs that post got (I don’t have a cultivated Digg audience)
Yes, that post at time of writing hasn’t received any Diggs. Digg doesn’t offer much in the way of useful data to Google anyway, and sites that might have given data, such as Del.icio.us have everything nofollowed. Del.icio.us might be useful for Yahoo, but not Google.
For more details on tags, I have lots of information on [tag]tagging[/tag]. (yes that is a tag)
My preference currently is to only use tagging to my own content pages, but I might well start also linking through to new tag spaces such as those provided by Bumpzee or Blogcatalog.
The reason being they are providing live links to me, so I will provide live links back in support.
Tagging documents in many ways is a Web 2.0 version of “Meta Keywords” that is suitable for syndication.
If you use WordPress, and don’t currently use a tagging plugin, I would actually wait for the release of WordPress 2.2, which will have built in tagging – then see which plugins will be actively supporting and adding the best ways to present that data. It will be something I will be actively looking at, and I am sure there will be lots of news about it, and solutions / word-a-rounds being offered.
If you are using a platform that doesn’t support internal tagging systems, I would point tags at sites that return some of the link juice – in my mind Blogcatalog and Bumpzee are good alternatives.
Alister did mention this aspect of tagging in his writeup, but very briefly
(Note: it would be remiss of me not to make one more point on tagging: tag your post content properly. Thatâ€™s the love Technorati, in particular, is looking for. When people bookmark your site to, say del.icio.us, they tag as they see fit. When you tag your own post content, your get the chance to cover all the bases you want covered. So get it right!)
Alister asked a number of questions at the end of his post on Google Blog Search, and I though I would give my answers here:-
Does it make sense to have Blogsearch separate from the main Google search engine?
I actually think we will eventually end up with more variations of the search page, with the ability to add Google Custom Search Engines to our personal search pages.
Google Blog Search might also gain a personal touch, giving a bonus to those blogs you are subscribed to in Google Reader.
As Google Blogsearch gains in popularity, will new (or adjusted) SEO strategies emerge along with it?
They already exist and have existed since Technorati was first becoming popular, though they will become more popular if Blogsearch was ever made a primary feature of the main search page. Blogsearch still has the Beta moniker.
How many people actually use Google Blogsearch?
Hitwise provided some data back in December
Do you use it? Why? What do you like about it? Anything you donâ€™t like about it?
I use it extensively especially for Google Alerts in blog posts. I use it occasionally if I am writing about a breaking story for research.
It is also quite a good way to gauge how competitive a niche is for certain terms, instead of using allintitle:
How do you find Google Blogsearch compares with Technorati?
I don’t like Technorati’s methods of judging authority, and it is purely personal – in the past I have checked what settings I needed to use for my own content to show up in the search results on Technorati, and I wasn’t too impressed about blogs with far less links appearing in their higher authority category.
One thing I have noted about comparisons is people stating that for some reason Technorati has more results faster – I have never noticed this, Google pick up my content within minutes of me posting it.